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A Degotardi album?

Album cover

The name Degotardi is well known to those with an interest in photography. John Degotardi senior (1823-1882) photographed Sydney in the 1860s and 1870s, after arriving in Sydney in 1853. His interest in photography grew out of his occupation as a printer and engraver. His son John Degotardi Junior (1860-1937) worked at the NSW Government Printing Office and was photographer with the NSW Department of Public Works from 6 January 1897 to 1919.

9 - 7-11491 John Degotardi jr PWD card 001

Employment card for John Degotardi jr

Among the material held at State Records is NRS 15344 “Photographs of Sydney taken between 1860 and 1880” from the Navigation Department. This album includes photos of Sydney Harbour and environs, major buildings in Sydney, provincial centres and rural New South Wales. The album has a note inside the cover saying: ‘This album was purchased from J. Degotardi, Department of Public Works, in 1913 – price £20’.

Panorama of Darling Harbour from Balmain - No.3

An image from the album

So are these works by his father John Degotardi senior? After all the Department of Public Works photographic section begins in 1883 and these photographs are clearly 1860s and 1870s. Also as a public servant John Degotardi junior would not have had the right to sell Public Works’ photographs in 1913. We know there are some keen Degotardi fans out there and we welcome your input!

Browse the album on Photo Investigator

  • pellethepoet says:

    Many of the photographs in the “Degotardi Album” are by William Hetzer, Degotardi senior’s friend and colleague. Captioned prints are in the collection of the State Library of Victoria. They are all dated 1866 and were “probably exhibited at the 1866 Intercolonial Exhibition, held at the Melbourne Public Library”.

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000009.jpg
    Botanical Gardens from the Victoria Gate /​ Sydney N.S.Wales. /​ 1866.

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000010.jpg
    Botanical Gardens. (Aviary.) /​ Sydney. N.S.Wales 1866.

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000031.jpg
    Australian Museum (New Wing.) /​ Sydney N.S.Wales. 1866.

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000034.jpg
    New General Post Office /​ Sydney N.S.Wales. 1866.

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000045.jpg
    Picton Tunnel Great Southern Railway. /​ New South Wales /​ 1866.

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000047.jpg
    Knapsack Gulley Viaduct /​ Great Western Railway N.S.Wales 1866.

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000062.jpg
    Albert Drinking Fountain – Outer Domain. /​ Sydney N.S.Wales. /​ 1866.

    Hetzer left Australia the following year, and Degotardi took over his studio (including thousands of his negatives) at 287 George Street, leaving his Sydney Printing Office in Robin Hood Lane. For more on the connection between Hetzer and Degotardi, see discussion here:

    April 17, 2013 at 7:01 pm
  • pellethepoet says:

    Sorry, let’s try those links again –

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000009.jpg =

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000010.jpg =

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000031.jpg =

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000034.jpg =.

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000045.jpg =

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000047.jpg =

    Digital ID: 15344_a044_000062.jpg =

    April 17, 2013 at 7:30 pm
  • beachcomberaustralia says:

    Yes, it is an evolving discovery over on the relative flickr pages. I was hoping State Records NSW had more information on this album, but evidently not. Whack the entire album on to Flickr, and pellethepoet & Co. Ltd. will sort it all out! Fascinating stuff!

    April 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm
  • pellethepoet says:

    pellethepoet & Co. Ltd. have had a busy night! See further comments:

    Some liaising with the State Library of VIC and NSW needs to be done to confirm a few of the possible Degotardi attributions to undigitized photos in their collections …

    April 18, 2013 at 1:54 am
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    Thanks so much for all you’ve discovered so far @pellethepoet and @beachcomberaustralia. I just went and had a look at your flickr work. Amazing! You two should get your own cable TV show.

    April 18, 2013 at 9:03 am
  • agrippinamaior says:

    Awesome! I am hoping that while I am living overseas and not running around like a lunatic here that I may be able to come back into the fold and spend a bit more time on these photos again! I miss it … and the company ;-)

    June 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm